synthetic drugs

For nearly four years now, an unusual coalition of Republicans and Democrats has worked to reduce mandatory prison terms for many federal drug crimes.

But that bipartisan movement may be shallower than it appears. Indeed, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who both supported a cut-back on some drug punishments, are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioid drugs. Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Feinstein is the panel's ranking member.

Bondi Announces Ban On Synthetic Drug

Sep 28, 2016
Bloomberg / Getty Images

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday announced an emergency rule to ban a type of synthetic drug that she said has caused multiple deaths in Florida.

Flakka Ravaged South Florida, Then Disappeared

Apr 12, 2016
Broward Sheriff's Office via AP, File / Associated Press Photo

A year after it ravaged South Florida, flakka — the synthetic street drug known for causing psychotic outbursts — is virtually gone. The deaths. The hallucinating users. The arrests. All of it.

Balance Billing Among Legislative Priorities For Cabinet

Jan 21, 2016
State of Florida / State of Florida

Citrus, rape kits, credit card skimmers, synthetic drugs, life insurance, water, medical bills, racketeering and Iran.

That is the short version of the legislative priorities for Florida's three independently elected Cabinet members. While they can't sponsor or vote on bills or sign them into law, the Cabinet members hold important leadership roles in state government and each is working with lawmakers to pass legislation.

A street drug made of various chemicals sprayed on tea leaves, grass clippings and other plant material continues to send thousands of people suffering from psychotic episodes and seizures to emergency rooms around the country.

In 2015, calls to poison control regarding the drug already have almost doubled, compared to last year's total, and health professionals and lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the problem.

Associated Press

Three Floridians are looking at stretches in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to acquire and distribute the illegal synthetic drug known as "spice."

All three are from the Tampa area. Pleading guilty to a pair of federal drug conspiracy charges were 28-year-old Ahmed Yehia Khalifa and 25-year-old Ahmed Maher Elhelw. They face up to 20 years in prison on each charge and have agreed to forfeit more than $472,000 in assets.

Gov. Rick Scott signed several drug bills into law on Monday and said he will do the same for a measure that fights human trafficking.

Police are wondering if a 20-year-old man who shot himself and died at Halifax Health Medical Center had used a popular synthetic narcotic before his rampage, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. An almost-empty bottle labeled  “Molly Water” was found in the car of Jonathan Rodriguez-Jeff, who police say shot himself in the head in front of a nurse and her Alzheimer’s patient.

When Charlie Bates sexually assaulted four University of South Florida students and terrorized dozens of others in September, he was under the influence of an ingredient found in synthetic bath salts.  An autopsy of the man killed in a shootout with police found “an extremely high level” of methylone in Bates’ system at the time of death, according to The Tampa Tribune.

Authorities say bath salts and synthetic marijuana may be banned in Florida, but people are still using the highly unpredictable drugs, and they are still being manufactured in state, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

It appears that state and federal laws criminalizing the sale of “bath salts” -- while not perfect -- are working. The number of overdoses on the synthetic drugs this year stands at 833, down from 6,137 in 2011, according to the national Poison Control Center.

Tampa Tribune

Law enforcement agencies have been less than successful in trying to stop the sale of synthetic drugs, also called "bath salts," which are pitched to kids under names such as "Scooby Snax" despite their danger. The dealers simply change the chemistry faster than the Legislature can pass laws against it. 

Sun-Sentinel

Reporters from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel  had little trouble buying synthetic drugs from a convenience store in Pompano Beach, even amid Florida’s efforts to crackdown on the dangerous substances.

One of the packets tested positive for a synthetic cannabinoid, which is a violation of federal law, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Attorney General Pam Bondi announces an emergency ban on 22 varieties of bath salts and synthetic marijuana.